This week, we’d like to discuss how to prevent injuries. Whether you are an elite athlete, playing sports at the youth or high school levels, or simply a weekend warrior trying to stay in shape, injuries can be a bummer. They can severely set you back, hinder your progress, and kill your motivation to get back out there.
We have to be honest, without injuries, there wouldn’t be as much of a demand of physical therapists. But that doesn’t mean we want everyone to get hurt, especially if they’re participating in something they really enjoy. Rather, we prefer to help patients practice better habits so they can stay in the game, and become the best at whatever activity they’re doing!
- Warm up. ANY reputable exercise regimen should include a warm up and section to make sure your body is adequately prepared for the activities ahead. This warm up should be active, meaning you should be getting your heart rate up and your muscles warm. Even 5 minutes of warming up and can have a huge benefit on regimen.
- Stretch. Gone are the days of starting your exercise program with stretching. Stretching of muscles should not be done before you are warmed up. Instead, you should consider going through a deep stretching, cool down period at the end of your exercise program.
- Don’t overdo it. The notion of “no pain no gain” is really not very good advice. You should be able to complete an exercise program without much pain. While you may feel a slight “burn” of your muscles, or some slight discomfort felt when stretching, you should avoid any movements that create sharp pains or leave you aching for days after exercise. You should gradually build yourself into more intense programs, and listen to your body throughout new activities.
- Be consistent. One of the biggest reasons people become injured, especially older adults, is because they only work out here & there, and when they do, they try to make up for lost time by doing way too much. This leaves them with sore, damaged muscles, that is often met with complete sedentary behavior for the week to follow because they’re in too much pain to exercise again. It’s a much better idea to work out moderately hard more consistently than to exercise vigorously once or twice every couple of weeks.
- Don’t exercise if you’ve sustained an injury. If you rolled your ankle while on a run, don’t try to run on that ankle the next day. Let it heal. Make an appointment to see your local physical therapist to make sure nothing more serious happened. They can tell you definitively if you should push through the pain or if you should continue to rest, and they can prescribe activities to do in the mean time.
With any form of physical activity, there is an inherent risk for sustaining an injury. If you participate in fast-paced contact sports that involve quick changes of direction, your chances of injury are quite high, and not always preventable. While injuries cannot be avoided entirely, the best way to protect yourself is to keep your body well-conditioned. Keep your muscles strong, be consistent in your training, and make sure to warm up, stretch, and cool down.
If you have sustained an injury, give us a call at OC Sports & Rehab. We can evaluate your injury, and create a unique rehab protocol for you to get you back to doing the activities you love. We can show you exercises and stretches, and apply modalities that can speed up your recovery process. Check out our website to see all of the Physical Therapy Services we offer and contact our front office to schedule an appt today!